Ernest C. Hardin, Jr. – Lieutenant General, United States Air Force

Courtesy of the United States Air Force


Retired June 1975, Died October 10, 1986

Lieutenant General Ernest C. Hardin Jr., was deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Readiness Command with headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The USREDCOM, one of seven unified commands in the United States armed forces, exercises control of assigned continental United States-based general purpose Army and Air Force forces and maintains them in readiness to reinforce other unified commands. To assure that its assigned forces are combat-ready, USREDCOM has the collateral responsibility to conduct joint training through joint training exercises.

General Hardin was born in 1916, in Wheatcroft, Kentucky. He graduated from Henry Clay High School, Lexington, Kentucky , and attended the University of Kentucky for two years where he took a prelaw course. He graduated from Jefferson School of Law, University of Louisville, with a bachelor of laws degree in 1942 and received a juris
doctorate from the University of Louisville in 1969. He is a member of the Kentucky Bar Association.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in December 1941 as an aviation cadet and entered flying training school in March 1942. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant with an aeronautical rating as pilot in March 1943. During World War II, he served with the 92d Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force in the European Theater of Operations from 1943 to the end of the war. He flew B-17 bombers on 46 combat missions with a total of 250 flying hours and served as an aircraft commander, lead crew; assistant operations officer; and squadron commander. As director of operations, he moved the group to Marseilles, France, retrofitted the B-17 aircraft to troop carrier configuration, and began the project of returning high-point servicemen home from the European Theater of Operations. He returned to the United States in October 1945 and was relieved from active duty.

General Hardin accepted a regular commission in June 1946, returned to active duty and was assigned to the Civil Liaison Office, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. He attended the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, 1949-1950. In June 1950 he was assigned as deputy chief, legislative liaison, in the Office of the Secretary of

In June 1953 he was assigned to the Strategic Air Command as director of operations for the 6th Air Division at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. In May 1954 he was sent to Okinawa to serve as deputy commander of the 307th Bombardment Wing and in December 1954 went with the wing to Lincoln, Nebraska. In August 1956 he was
assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, as chief of the Plans Division and in June 1958 became deputy chief of plans.

In November 1958 General Hardin was assigned as deputy commander, Sixteenth Air Force, SAC, at Torrejon Air Base, Spain. He was transferred in October 1960 to Washington, D.C., where he assumed the responsibilities of chief of Atomic Operations Division, J-3 (Operations), Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and in May 1961 became chief of the Operations Plans Division. During this period he participated in the development of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Single Integrated Operations Plan, a new concept of joint operations for nuclear war.

In June 1963 he became military assistant to the Secretary of Defense. He was assigned to Tactical AirCommand in August 1964 as commander, 838th Air Division at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. He became deputy commander, Ninth Air Force, at Fort Bragg, N.C., in November 1964, and during that tour of duty he was parachute jump qualified by the 82d Airborne Division. He assumed command of the 839th Air Division at Sewart Air Force Base, Tenn., in April 1965. He was assigned to Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, in August 1966, as deputy chief of staff for plans and in June 1967 became deputy chief of staff for operations.

General Hardin was assigned as deputy chief of staff, operations, Pacific Air Forces, Hawaii, in August 1968. He went to Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, in April 1970, as deputy chief of staff, operations, for Seventh Air Force, and became vice commander in June 1970. In Vietnam most of his combat flying was in the RF-4C reconnaissance version of the Phantom II fighter. He returned to PACAF in September 1971 as chief of staff. In March 1972 he became commander of the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, Norton Air Force Base, California.

In December 1973 General Hardin was assigned as deputy commander in chief, U.S. Readiness Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with oak leaf cluster, French Croix de Guerre,
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, National Order of Vietnam (Fifth Class), and Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order.

General Hardin's hometown is Smyrna, Tennessee.

Ethel Smith Hardin, a resident of Albuquerque since 1979 passed away on December
14, 2000. She was born on October 9, 1920 in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, and is preceded in death by her husband, Lieutenant General E.C. Hardin Jr., her parents, The Hon. and Mrs. J.D. Smith and her little sister, Peggy.

Ethel was a southern beauty with a strong mind who graduated from the University of Louisville in 1945 with a degree in English. She met the love of her life, E. C.”Moose” Hardin, Jr. in 1946, married him in 1947 and shared and built his brilliant military career in the Air Force achieving the rank of Lieutenant General upon his retirement from the Air Force and his subsequent career with the Department of Energy until his death in 1986. Their mutual respect and love for each other is held in high regard by their five children: Melinda M. Hardin of Bellingham, WA, Chad Hardin and his children, Matthew and Grace of Guilford, CT, Shelley H. Peters and her husband, Jerry and their children, Rachel, Katie, Camielle, and Thomas of Campbell, CA, Sally Casey and her husband, Dennis and their children, Shelley and Charlie of Albuquerque, and John Hardin of Bellingham, WA. She also is survived by her sister, Alma Howard of Pompano Beach FL and her son, Neel Howard, Jr, her best friend and sister, Joyce Childress of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and her brother, Wood and wife, Fran of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, her sister, Peggy's children, Laura M. Brown and Rick Martin, sister-in-law, Ann Hardin Akers and her son, John and family of Greensboro, NC, sister-in-law, Jen Norbert of Pittsburgh, PA and her children, Greg Norbert and family, Nan Cervantes and family, and Missy Watson and family, and nieces,  Jennie Brawner of Carlsbad, CA and Barbara Armstrong and family of Tampa, FL. A special mention needs to be made for her life long friends especially Carolyn Ferrell and Betty Ann Russell who came to visit with her every year for the last 10 years until she was too sick to continue.

She touched so many lives with her grace, beauty, dignity, extreme sweetness and generosity. We will remember her through her talent as a writer and the plays she
staged and directed. She brought a love of music to her children by sharing her passions with them. Her life was filled with humor and lots of laughter. She carried her love of life and her graciousness in her relationship with Dr. Barbara McAneny, Sheryl Dixon, RN and all the angels in the Presbyterian Hospice Unit. Our family is forever indebted to you all.

Services are pending and final interment will take place in Arlington National Cemetery in the spring where she will join her rightful place with her husband. French
Mortuary is handling the cremation. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her
name to the American Cancer Society or Presbyterian Hospice Unit. French Mortuary, 10500 Lomas Blvd. NE.

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